Friday, August 19, 2016

4 Reasons to Get a 15-Year Mortgage

A traditional 30-year mortgage is a great option for many people. However, there are many good reasons to opt for a shorter term mortgage!

4 Reasons to Get a 15-Year Mortgage
By Maurie Beckman

Despite their popularity among homebuyers, 30-year mortgages come with a few key drawbacks. For one thing, homeowners with 30-year mortgages typically take longer to pay off their homes and pay much more in interest.

These are just a couple of the reasons why some homebuyers prefer the 15-year mortgage. In fact, last quarter alone, more than 30% of homeowners who refinanced switched from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or you're thinking of refinancing your current loan, here are a few good reasons to consider a mortgage with a 15-year term.

1. You can afford the higher monthly payment
If you don't have a lot of non-mortgage debt and you're earning decent money, then it's a good time to consider a 15-year loan. A 15-year mortgage will come with a higher monthly payment, but the shorter the life of your loan, the less money you wind up throwing away on interest charges.

Let's say you're looking to take out a $200,000 fixed-rate mortgage, and you're approved for 4% interest for both a 15-year and 30-year mortgage. (In reality, the 15-year mortgage would most likely come with a lower rate, but for the sake of an easy comparison, we'll keep the rate the same for both options.) If you go with the 30-year mortgage, you'll wind up paying $955 a month and a total of $143,700 in interest over the life of the loan. If you take the 15-year mortgage, your monthly payment will be higher at $1,479, but over the life of your loan, you'll only wind up paying about $66,300 in interest.

In all, you'd save over $77,000 by going with the 15-year mortgage. The higher your mortgage amount and interest, the more a 15-year term can save you. So if you can swing that higher monthly payment, you might as well go for it.

2. You have a stable job
The danger of getting a 15-year mortgage -- and the higher monthly payment that goes with it -- is that if you suddenly find yourself unemployed, you'll have a harder time making your payments than you would with a 30-year loan. But if you have a stable job, then you're in a far better position to get a 15-year mortgage than someone who's new to the workforce or who works in an industry with low job security. A 15-year mortgage might also be more suitable for someone who's a salaried employee, as opposed to a freelancer whose income is unpredictable. That said, some self-employed folks have more income stability than others. If you're a freelance employee who's built up a steady workflow and client base, then you might benefit from a 15-year mortgage as well.

3. You're nearing retirement
Once retirement hits, you'll be limited to a fixed income, so the less debt you have when you retire, the better. If you're looking to buy a new home or refinance in your late 40s or 50s, and you want a shot at paying off your mortgage before you retire, then a 15-year term might be your best bet. Furthermore, if you're within two decades of retirement, then there's a good chance you're earning more now than you were 10 years ago, which means those higher payments are likely to be more affordable.

4. There are other things you want to save for
The average American Opens a New Window.  spends more on housing than on any other category of living expense. If you have other goals you need to save for, like retirement, college, or that trip around the world you've always dreamed of taking, then knocking out your home loan and shaving off thousands of dollars in interest charges will bring you one major step closer to those goals. In fact, you can think of a 15-year mortgage as a forced savings plan. Rather than spending less money each month on housing and leaving the rest available for frivolous purchases, you can avoid the trap of instant gratification by locking yourself into a 15-year mortgage.

While a 15-year mortgage isn't for everyone, there are several benefits to going this route. Remember, too, that while a 15-year mortgage will result in a higher monthly payment than a 30-year loan, it won't double your payment. Once you actually sit down to crunch the numbers Opens a New Window. , you may come to find that your payments under a 15-year loan are far more affordable than you initially thought.

The $15,834 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
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Article originally appeared on

What is a Loan-to-Value Ratio?

What is a Loan-to-Value Ratio? It's the Key to Getting a Good Mortgage

If you're buying a home and apply for a mortgage, one critical factor in whether you secure financing is your loan-to-value ratio. So what exactly is this LTV ratio?

An LTV ratio is simply the amount of money you borrow from your lender, divided by the purchase price of the home, expressed as a percentage. For example, let's say the home you have your eye on is worth $250,000 and you plan to make a down payment of 20% of the home's price, or $50,000. That would mean you need a loan for $200,000. That would also mean your LTV ratio would be $200,000 / $250,000 = 0.8, or 80%.

Why the loan-to-value ratio matters

Lenders use LTV ratios to determine the risk level they face loaning money to a prospective client. The higher a client's LTV, the greater the odds are deemed to be that this borrower might stop paying the monthly mortgage fees and default on the loan.

"Borrowers who have a higher loan-to-value ratio are considered more risky to lenders, because they have less equity in their homes," explains Keith Gumbinger, vice president of, a mortgage information resource. In other words, they have less skin in the game.

For instance: Let's say you make a down payment of only 10%, or $25,000, on that home worth $250,000. That would mean you need a loan for $225,000, which would also mean your LTV ratio would be $225,000 / $250,000 = 0.9 or 90%.

Most conventional private lenders like banks require an LTV ratio of 80% (or lower) to approve a loan (which translates to buyers making a 20% down payment). Home buyers with a higher LTV (and lower down payment) might be deemed too risky and be denied a mortgage. Or, a lender might approve the loan, but at a higher interest rate (more risk, more reward), or require that the buyer purchase private mortgage insurance which will cover the lender should the borrower default. PMI is typically required for conventional loans with down payments of less than 20%.

How to lower your loan-to-value ratio

There are two ways to lower your LTV to get good terms on a home loan. The first is to make a larger down payment -- at least 20% will generally lower your LTV to within a range found to be desirable by lenders. The other strategy, of course, is to buy a cheaper house. So if you have only $25,000 for a down payment, buy a home worth $150,000. That would mean you'd need a loan for $125,000, and that your LTV would be $125,000 / 150,000 = 0.83, or 83%.

When in doubt, talk to a lender or Realtor to discuss your options -- ideally before you start house hunting so you know what's within your budget. You can also crunch the numbers with this mortgage calculator.

To view the original article, click here.

This Weekend in RVA

There are many things to do around RVA this weekend, and it's a good thing, because summertime is almost at an end!  From winding down your summer with a nice back-to-school block party, or going out with a (head)bang at the 7th Annual Gwar-B-Q to truly experience the wild side of Richmond, there's a spectrum of options to choose from.  How will you spend your final summer daze?

Be one of the first 1,000 fans to enter the stadium and receive a free Grateful Dead t-shirt!  Hear some classic jams from local Dead cover band, Dead Giveaway! Game starts at 7:05.

See Townley Haas throw out the first pitch at 6:05 pm! Extra Bonus: It's fireworks night!

Pork Belly tacos and burgers from the Tin Pan, craft beers, wine and prosecco on draft for the adults! Face painting, fire truck tours and a petting zoo for the kids! Come out to Quioccasin Station for their first back to school block party for the whole family!  Live music and free entry!

Lots of shows and specials all around town this weekend for the event that brings thousands of Gwar fans and heavy music lovers together!  The main event is Saturday at Hadad's Lake with all day music, vendors, and waterpark fun! 

Barbecue from all the best spots in Richmond, plus beer from 18 local breweries! What more could you ask for?

Have fun out there this weekend, folks and stay hydrated!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

RMBA September Luncheon

Announcing the RMBA September Luncheon!  It's sure to be educational and delicious.  Get your tickets now, (our last luncheon sold out) because seating is limited and tickets go fast! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk

Hi my people!
It’s that time of the year again,

I’m raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk.  It’s a great fundraising campaign that LLS promotes and ends on October 15, 2016.   I like it the best because it’s very family oriented, everyone can come and have a fun night!  So if you can make it, or want to join my team, please feel free to do so!

The purpose of LLS is to help find better treatment and cures for blood cancers so patients can live better, longer lives.  Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution using the quick and secure link:  --I checked it, it worksJ

You will receive and email confirmation of your donation as soon as it made and you will get an awesome hug from me when I see you!
Thank you so much in advance for your support over the years—if you could see the list of people who have donated to this cause on my behalf, you would be as touched and amazed as I am right now!

Love you all!
Love and Light,

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I'm selling soon, should I refinance?

Lots of people should take advantage of our still, record-low rates by refinancing.  However, there are many things to consider before refinancing! Like this article points out, always keep your repayment term shorter than what you currently have left to pay off.  What if you plan to move, is refinancing worth it?  Well, that all depends.  Refinancing, just like closing an original mortgage, has its costs.  Ultimately, if you are going to stay in the home long enough to recoup those costs is key to determining whether refinancing on the way out is a good idea.  The answer is always in the numbers.

Your time frame on selling your home is key to determining whether to refinance
By Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin

We are paying 4.8 percent on a 20-year fixed mortgage. We owe $109,000 and are six years into the loan. We plan to sell a year from now. If we weren’t going to sell, I know I could do better on a mortgage rate. Does it make sense to refinance now?

Although you could swap your 20-year loan for a 15-year loan for a lower interest rate, you only have 14 years left on the mortgage. So you’d never want to get a loan with a longer term than what you already have left. You’d have to go for a 10-year loan, which should carry a lower interest rate than the current 20-year mortgage you have — but might be about the same as a 15-year mortgage.

In fact, during the week of July 4, 10-year mortgages were priced higher than 15-year mortgages. In looking at mortgage interest rates, the 15-year mortgages were priced at 2.70 percent, which is extremely low. Conversely, 10-year mortgages were priced higher, at 2.79 percent.

(That might seem counterintuitive, since shorter loan terms typically carry a lower interest rate, but is an odd occurrence due to worldwide market nuttiness, including Brexit.)

So let’s do the numbers. You didn’t tell us how much you’re paying right now or how much your original loan amount was for. But if you refinanced $109,000 at 2.7 percent for 10 years, you’d pay $1,037.49 each month (for principal and interest, not including taxes and insurance). You’d only pay $15,498 in interest over the entire life of the loan!

[More Matters: It can get pretty sticky when trying to change rules on leasing condo units]

If you were going to stay for even three years, refinancing this loan might make sense. But if you’re going to sell your home in a year, refinancing probably doesn’t make financial sense. It will likely cost you something to refinance, unless you do a truly no-cost refinance — and even then you might pay out of pocket for an appraisal or maybe a loan application fee. (If you get a no-cost refinance, then you will pay a higher interest rate.)

If you pay even one percent on a $109,000 refinance, that will cost $1,000. If you save $150 per month, it’ll take about six months of “savings” to pay off the cost of the refinance. But it might take you two to four months to shop for a refinance, get all of the paperwork together, and then close on the loan. In short, it’s not worth it.

You should probably stick with your mortgage and then you can apply for a new loan when (and if) you buy your new house.

article originally appeared on

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Huge News for VHDA Grant Funds!!

Effective with locks on or after Tuesday, September 7th, VHDA is updating their DPA (Downpayment Assistance) Grant program guidelines in order to make it a sustainable program and will require the following:

  • All borrowers must contribute a minimum of 1% of the sales price for each transaction.
  • These funds may come from borrower contributions or other acceptable funds in accordance with the program guidelines. Gifts are acceptable.
  • The maximum grant amount will be 2.50% for FHA loans and 2.00% for Fannie Mae loans.
  • The minimum credit score will be 640 (for all borrowers).All borrowers must have a credit score to be eligible.
  • The maximum debt to income ratio will be 41.00%.
  • All loans must receive an AUS approval (Reminder: FHA with gift funds may not be run through LPA, only through DU). Manual approvals will not be accepted.

Again, these new guidelines become effective with all new VHDA loans locked beginning September 7, 2016. As always, a fully executed contract is required prior to locking loans and
reserving DPA Grant funds.

If you have any questions, call me! Always available for questions and scenarios!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Take Advantage of the Rising Tide of Home Prices

Lots of people are speculating what homeownership means in this changing market.  Home values have gone up while rates remain low, there are many options for existing homeowners and soon-to-be homeowners to take advantage of what the housing market has to offer.

5 Ways to Ride the Tide of Rising Home Prices
Housing values are surging. Here are some great ways to take advantage of what the market offers, depending on where you are in life.

By: Marilyn Lewis

Home prices grew 5 percent between May 2015 and May 2016, says the respected S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index. As home prices grow, new opportunities open up for homeowners, buyers and sellers.

The surge in home values was “further proof that the U.S. housing market had its strongest spring since the recession,” The Wall Street Journal says. The growth was led by cities in the West. Portland (12.5 percent price gains), Seattle (10.7 percent) and Denver (9.5 percent) had the biggest increases among 20 cities studied.

The boom-and-bust-and-boom-again U.S. housing market has many heads spinning. Here’s a quick review, with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. These numbers — which are calculated using a different method than the Case-Shiller index — are for a median-priced home.

Remember, “median” means that half the prices in the market were higher and half were lower:

1. Boom: November 2007. The median price of existing (not new) U.S. homes hits an all-time high: $249,100.
2. Bust: March 2009. Home prices plummet by nearly 18 percent. The median price falls to $205,100 in a just over two years.
3. Inching back: December 2012. By fits and starts, prices crawl upward. Around five years after the crash, home prices finally exceed the 2007 record.
4. Boom: April 2016. Prices hit a new high, $320,000 — up 28 percent from the 2007 high.
5. Wobbles: May and June 2016. After peaking, home prices fall back down to $288,800 in May. Then, they move back up again, to $306,700 in June.

Here are five opportunities that this moment offers, depending on where you are in life:

Option No. 1: Become a homeowner

If you want to buy a home, you may be relieved to know that the growth in prices has begun to slow. No one is expecting prices to fall but the intense competition for homes in a market with limited inventory for sale should ease a bit as higher prices prompt more property owners to sell.

Zillow — whose home value estimates differ from Case-Shiller’s — predicts home prices will rise less than 3 percent by this time next year. Still, demand should stay strong: Three-quarters of renters want to become homeowners — up from 68.5 percent in 2015, say researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

If you want to be a homeowner, get moving, economist Robert Shiller told Bloomberg recently. “People should be buying a house if they want a house and not speculating that these price increases will continue,” said Shiller, one of the creators of the Case-Shiller Index.

He emphasized that house price appreciation has averaged less than 1 percent a year over the past century.

Before you buy, find out whether it is better to rent or buy where you live. Rent-or-buy calculators can show you which of these two options makes the most sense strictly from a financial point of view.

Of course, so much else is involved in the decision, including stability — the ability to stay put and keep kids in their schools without fear of being bumped out or priced out by rent increases. Here’s help thinking the question through: “To Buy or Rent? How to Find the Answer to That Million-Dollar Question.”

A word of caution: It’s reassuring to know that since the recession, the federal government has installed consumer protections that stop lenders and borrowers from committing most of the crazy mortgage excesses that caused the housing crash.

But it’s still important to be careful when taking on debt. Other stuff could happen. There’s no guarantee we won’t have another recession. You could lose your job, or become injured and unable to work.

It is also possible you will wake up one day and realize you hate your job and need to return to school or retrain. Or maybe your spouse might need to step away from work to care for elderly parents or stay home with the kids.

The safest plans take into account what may go wrong. Here’s how to cover your bases:

  • Don’t let housing eat up more than 30 percent of your income — 40 percent if you are determined to go out on a limb.
  • Don’t live on credit or go without an emergency fund that could cover three to six months of expenses or more.

Finally, be sure to shop around for the best deal on mortgages. Rates are very low in historical terms. But remember that a difference of a percentage point in interest can mean tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

Option No. 2: Move up to a better home

Rising home prices are freeing many homeowners from their underwater home mortgages. A home is “underwater” — also called “negative equity — when its mortgage is bigger than the home’s market value.

Nearly one-third of home mortgages were underwater in 2012 after home values sank precipitously. Owners couldn’t sell these homes for enough money to pay off the mortgage, which contributed to a shortage of homes for sale. In January, a far smaller proportion — 12.7 percent — of U.S. homes had negative equity, Zillow reported.

Owners who are no longer underwater are now in a position to sell, and to move to a better home or better location.

Option No. 3: Pull out cash

With the rising prices, homeowners with median-priced homes have seen their own equity increase by $14,000 or $15,000 in the last year.

If you need some cash, you have an opportunity to pull cash out with a refinance of your home loan, or with a home equity line of credit. “Mortgage lenders have been inundated with refinance requests,” CNBC’s Reality Check reports. If you have enough equity in your home to refinance the mortgage, this is an excellent time to do it, since mortgage rates remain near all-time lows.

Refinance borrowers paid, on average, 3.48 percent (with an average 0.5 point) for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in late July, according to Freddie Mac.

An important tip: Leave plenty of equity untouched if you borrow. It’s insurance that, in case of another big price drop, you won’t be stuck with negative equity.

Option No. 4: Take the money and run

For some, rising home prices offer a chance to make dreams come true. In the hottest markets — most of them in the West — high demand and high prices have prompted some homeowners to cash out and use the money to retire, or to change their lives entirely.

The Orange County Register reported on homeowners such as Bob and Jennifer Hochstadter, who sold the five-bedroom Laguna Niguel, California, home they’d owned for 35 years and pocketed the cash — more than $1 million, They moved into a smaller rental property they owned and have been traveling: “We just got back from a cruise on the Danube River,” Bob said. “The time we get to spend together we never had before, so it’s really nice.”

Of course, the beauty of the Hochstadters’ story is that they still had a place to live after selling their primary residence, and they were empty-nesters in a good position to downsize.

Option No. 5: Do nothing

If you’re happy and see no big reason to make a change, sit tight, enjoy your home and see where the market takes you. Chances are good that home values will keep growing and your rising home equity will accumulate until you need it.

To read the original article, visit